Congratulations to everyone headed to their championship games this week. The math is a bit fuzzy, but only about 15 to 20 percent of fantasy owners are still playing. In a game that requires skill and deft management from August through December, as well as a fair amount of luck, just making it to this point is something to be celebrated. Onto the Week 16 madness ...
"You would do well, sir, to remember how you became president."
That's a quote from Alexander Hamilton to John Adams in the latter's eponymous HBO miniseries. I'm not sure if Hamilton ever said anything like that to Adams in real life. He probably did, though. Quite prickly, that Hamilton.
What does it have to do with fantasy football. Well, it helps me make my favorite point for this time of year. Let's also bring in my Twitter friend, @djchrisrock, for some football context:
"@MBeller Vick, [Ray] Rice, J Charles. Hello Finals."
Look at those names again. Michael Vick. The top-ranked quarterback with 20 passing touchdowns and 2,755 yards to go along with eight rushing touchdowns and 613 yards on the ground. Ray Rice. A consensus top-five pick who struggled early in the season but has begun to come on of late. The criminally underused Jamaal Charles (his legal name, I swear). Even despite Todd Haley's bizarre lineup machinations, Charles is a top-10 back with 1,303 rushing yards, 415 receiving yards and five total touchdowns.
The point is, they're all studs. That brings us to another tweet, this one from @pittmanwear.
"@MBeller Do I dare start Tebow over Eli this week???"
I'm assuming the three question marks indicate that he knows it would be a crazy thing to go with Tebow over Manning. Tebow had a nice enough game against the Raiders, but Manning is pretty darn bankable, especially with Hakeem Nicks back in the fold.
You got here for a reason. Sure, you made a few shrewd pickups and you probably avoided any serious injuries. Maybe you had some decent luck with the schedule. But if you're playing for your fantasy championship, it's because you have studs you can count on. You would do well, sirs, to remember how you became a finalist in your respective fantasy leagues. Don't get cute with your lineups this week (Hamilton probably never said that last part).
One thing you can't avoid, be it Week 1 or Week 16, is the dreaded running back by committee. Even though the more talented back generally loses goal-line carries to a bruiser, write off that more talented back at your own peril. In the most important week of the season, one guy fits that mold. His name, again, is Felix Jones. Nik Bonaddio of numberFire has more:
"I'm reticent to recommend Jones again, simply because I picked him last week and I don't want to be perceived as having some kind of fancrush on small, versatile RBs; everyone who knows me can tell you that spot is forever held in Tecmo Super Bowl-influenced perpetuity by Dave Meggett! I hope you listened to me in this column last week: Jones racked up 117 total yards, so if you took my advice you got a nice little boost (+31% over his average projection) despite the decidedly suboptimal RBBC situation with Choice. While the split of touches does worry me a little bit, I have to like Jones again this week if only for the simple fact that he faces yet another juicy matchup: the Cardinals surrender the second-most FP to running backs, particularly at home where they were recently torched by Brian Westbrook, Stephen Jackson, and Knowshon Moreno in successive weeks. Even though the game itself is a largely meaningless affair where neither team has little to play for outside of pride and the cynical temptation to tank for a better draft slot, the Cowboys are playing some serious ball and will assuredly strive to keep the fires burning, if only to show that, in case you haven't already noticed, Wade Phillips was the problem. Again."
As I said above, most of us have been eliminated from our fantasy leagues this season. But that doesn't mean we can't play fantasy for another week while those other two jerks in the league battle it out for the championship. I present to you the one-week fantasy league.
First, you'll need somewhere between five and nine other friends to join you. Your other leaguemates not playing in the championship would be a great place to start. Then, you'll need to decide on the price that makes it interesting enough for you and your friends to play. For some, it might be $10. For others, it might take $100. We don't discriminate here at Fantasy Clicks. Whatever floats your boat is cool with us.
Sometime this week, hold a very short draft, and be sure to keep it simple. One quarterback, two running backs, three receivers, one tight end. That's it. No kicker, no defense. It's just one week, so you don't need backups, and there's no reason for this draft to drag on any longer than it needs to go.
I understand this would be easier for a group who can get together in person, which might be tough to pull off at the last second. But in the days of Blackberry Messenger and Gchat, everyone should be able to scrape together 45 minutes for a six-round fantasy draft. At least that's what I'd be telling the one guy who is holding out.
Now you're ready to play. Since you'll have somewhere between six and 10 players, and it's just a one-week league, you can't go head-to-head. Just make it a total points league. Use whatever scoring system you like (I'm in favor of 10 rushing/receiving yards for a point, 25 passing yards for a point, rushing and receiving touchdowns get you six, passing touchdowns get you four, turnovers are -1. And decimal scoring, of course), and most points at the end of the day wins. You could have second place get his money back, you could have last place pay double, whatever you choose. It's a great way to keep the fantasy season going for one more week, whether you made it to your championship or not. And if you happen to win this one-week fantasy bonanza, a 10 percent donation to the person who gave you the idea would be appropriate.
Check me out on Twitter, @MBeller, for updated rankings on Friday, Christmas Eve. Even the holidays can't derail fantasy football.
1. Drew Brees @ Falcons2. Michael Vick vs. Vikings3. Philip Rivers @ Bengals4. Matt Schaub @ Broncos5. Peyton Manning @ Raiders6. Aaron Rodgers vs. Giants -- Assuming he plays7. Tom Brady @ Bills8. Eli Manning @ Packers9. Joe Flacco @ Browns10. Ben Roethlisberger vs. Panthers11. Matt Ryan vs. Saints12. Jon Kitna @ Cardinals13. David Garrard vs. Redskins14. Jay Cutler vs. Jets15. Matt Cassel vs. Titans
1. Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Redskins2. Darren McFadden vs. Colts3. Chris Johnson @ Chiefs4. Michael Turner vs. Saints5. Ray Rice @ Browns6. Rashard Mendenhall vs. Panthers7. Arian Foster @ Broncos8. Jamaal Charles vs. Titans9. Adrian Peterson @ Eagles -- Assuming he plays10. LeSean McCoy vs. Vikings11. Peyton Hillis vs. Ravens12. Knowshon Moreno vs. Texans13. Ahmad Bradshaw @ Packers14. Matt Forte vs. Jets15. Fred Jackson vs. Patriots16. LeGarrette Blount vs. Seahawks17. BenJarvus Green-Ellis @ Bills18. Steven Jackson vs. 49ers19. Brandon Jacobs @ Packers20. Mike Tolbert @ Bengals21. Felix Jones @ Cardinals22. Cedric Benson vs. Chargers23. Ronnie Brown vs. Lions24. Jonathan Stewart @ Steelers25. Ryan Torain @ Jaguars26. Ryan Mathews @ Bengals27. Maurice Morris @ Dolphins28. Brian Westbrook @ Rams29. Shonn Greene @ Bears30. Thomas Jones vs. Titans
1. Andre Johnson @ Broncos2. Roddy White vs. Saints3. Hakeem Nicks @ Packers4. Dwayne Bowe vs. Titans5. DeSean Jackson vs. Vikings6. Vincent Jackson @ Bengals7. Greg Jennings vs. Giants -- Reflects Rodgers starting8. Reggie Wayne @ Raiders9. Marques Colston @ Falcons10. Brandon Lloyd vs. Texans11. Jeremy Maclin vs. Vikings12. Mike Wallace vs. Panthers13. Calvin Johnson @ Dolphins14. Miles Austin @ Cardinals15. Anquan Boldin @ Brown16. Mario Manningham @ Packers17. Mike Williams (TB) vs. Seahawks18. Brandon Marshall vs. Lions19. Kenny Britt @ Chiefs20. Wes Welker @ Bills21. Johnny Knox vs. Jets22. Malcom Floyd @ Bengals -- Assuming he plays23. Steve Johnson vs. Patriots24. Larry Fitzgerald vs. Cowboys|25. Mike Williams (SEA) @ Buccaneers26. Santana Moss @ Jaguars27. Deion Branch @ Bills28. Mike Thomas vs. Redskins29. Earl Bennett vs. Jets30. Derrick Mason @ Browns
1. Jason Witten @ Cardinals2. Marcedes Lewis vs. Redskins3. Jacob Tamme @ Raiders4. Tony Gonzalez vs. Saints5. Aaron Hernandez @ Bills6. Vernon Davis @ Rams7. Chris Cooley @ Jaguars8. Jimmy Graham @ Falcons9. Kevin Boss @ Packers10. Kellen Winsolw vs. Seahawks11. Tony Moeaki vs. Titans12. Rob Gronkowski @ Bills13. Ben Watson vs. Ravens14. Owen Daniels @ Broncos15. Brandon Pettigrew @ Dolphins
Same deal as last week. All my winners, from most confident to least.
1. Philadelphia over Minnesota2. Pittsburgh over Carolina3. New England over Buffalo4. Baltimore over Cleveland5. San Diego over Cincinnati6. Tampa Bay over Seattle7. Jacksonville over Washington8. Kansas City over Tennessee9. St. Louis over San Francisco10. Chicago over New York Jets11. Indianapolis over Oakland12. Green Bay over New York Giants (with a healthy Aaron Rodgers)13. Detroit over Miami14. Atlanta over New Orleans15. Dallas over Arizona16. Houston over Denver